Today’s the day! After months of research, negotiations, and lots of back and forth, today is the day. Finally.
As I type this, I am currently at the dealership waiting for them to finish the final touches before my walk through. But in an otherwise smooth transaction, this last step has make what should have been a wonderful buying experience to an unbelievable lack of communication and service, resulting in this downtime, and this post.
So let me back up. I live in California (for now), and purchased my rig from a dealership that didn’t have any west coast locations. The rig I wanted was in Buffalo, New York, but we arranged for pickup of the rig at their Iowa location, the closest one to California. So, they will bring the rig, and I will bring myself to Iowa.
The Sales Rep in Buffalo was great. She knew her stuff, answered questions honestly, and communicated nicely during and up to the handover. The Finance Manager in Iowa was fantastic as well. He coordinated the bank transaction, overnighted me the paperwork, which I signed, scanned and emailed back to him a few days later. Everything was going smoothly, too smoothly perhaps.
So, I was set to pickup the Rig on Monday afternoon. However, a couple days before, I received a call from the Finance Manager saying that due to a winter storm that swept through the NorthEast, the roads were too icy and slick for them to transport the rig on time, so we had to push back the delivery. I agreed that would be the best thing to do, and asked when the next pickup day would be available. He said Tuesday probably, but we scheduled for Wednesday just to have an extra day just incase. He wanted to verify that would be okay, so after we spoke, he let me know he would circle back later that day and confirm. About an hour or so later, I received an email confirmation for an appointment on Wednesday at 10am, and we were set.
My flight from California to Iowa was booked for Tuesday, with a hotel stay one night for my appointment on Wednesday morning. On my way to Iowa, I received an email from the Service Advisor who was going to take on the last part of ensuring the coach is ready for delivery. However, her news was not good news. She informed me that the coach hasn’t arrived yet, she didn’t know where it was, or when it would be there. I find it hard to believe in this day and age of cell phones, GPS and all the technology available to us, she had no idea when the rig left Buffalo, where it is now, or when it is expected to arrive.
When I arrived in Des Moines, I received an email that the rig was there and they were going to get started on it. However, she said it would not be available on Wednesday. This, after we had already coordinated delivery, had a second confirmed appointment, and I was already in Iowa. Now, typically this wouldn’t have been too big of a deal, but I had been delayed once already, and I had commitments I had back in California, plus campgrounds reserved for the way back, I was on a hard deadline. I informed her of all these things, and all of the coordination and communication we had done up to this point, but she didn’t care. I told her that we could push the delivery a bit later, but I wanted to be at my first campsite before dark, and it’s was 2 hours away, so I would need to be out of the dealership by 3pm at the latest, 2pm ideally because I still need to swing by the grocery store to provision for the ride back to California. She said 10am is fine and will do everything she can to ensure that the rig is ready.
Wednesday morning rolls around and I get there around 10:05am, after having to walk to the dealership from the hotel, in the snow, because no Ubers were available. When I arrived, I could tell she hated her job, and probably hated her life and was going to take it out on me. She spoke in such a harsh and unwelcoming tone, I just knew she wasn’t going to be very helpful. She told me the rig isn’t ready and she needed more time, which I said that’s fine, how much more time do you need? In which she said “I don’t know”. Apparently, she doesn’t know a lot, because that’s her answer to most questions. (Remember, she didn’t know when the rig left Buffalo, where it was along the route, or when it was suppose to arrive. She also didn’t know about the conversations I had with the Finance Manager coordinating details).
After going a couple rounds with her, she said 1 hour, which I said that would be great. She took me to the Finance Manager and we finalized our business in about 5 minutes. It turns out he came in on his day off just to make sure the process went smoothly, and it absolutely was. While we were having our discussion, she told the Finance Manger 1pm, and I said “Oh, wait, you said one hour just a bit ago. Is it 1 hour, or is it 1pm?” And she said “I don’t know”
It’s amazing how what should be a fun and exciting day can be ruined by just one uncaring person. Picking up your Full Time RV is like closing escrow on your home and getting the keys for the first time. It should be a happy, joyous celebration that will be remembered for years to come. Realtors bring gifts, and the Title person usually has something nice for you as well. Do I get a thank you card, or a nice gift? Nope. I get rude Service Advisor Karen (not her real name) who doesn’t know anything, and doesn’t mind not trying to find out.
So now, I am sitting here, at 12pm, and she has not come out to update me on the progress, ask if I need anything, or have any questions. She has not even acknowledged my existence for the past two hours, as I sit here typing watching her hide in her office.
I know this can be a common occurrence with many dealerships, but I would challenge each and every RV dealership to remember something. I’m not buying a $30k travel trailer for weekend getaways. I’m buying my next home that has an MSRP close to $300k, more than most homes here in Iowa. Trust me, I just checked.
Plus, with the influx of more and more people using social media, not just photos and videos, but YouTube channels and such, everyone needs to be very, very aware that their customers can have a social media presence that can influence hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people. As a former corporate marketing executive, I’ve always said that if the front line staff did their job well and took care of all of our guests, we would never have to spend a dime on advertising, we would let our customers do it for us. I don’t know why this concept is so hard to grasp.